What Does An Iceberg Have To Do With Inclusion?

Will Your Inclusion Iceberg Capsize Your Success?

Discover how the S.P.A.R.K. Acronym is a helpful self-reflection tool for your organization


The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively. – Bob Marley


How many of us have heard a top Executive / Administrator say they value diversity and inclusion? I know I have.


Saying those words is a start, because it implies there is awareness of the value. Action, however, is what separates the strongest organizations from the rest.


The strongest organizations, most with diversity/inclusion as core values, have practices, policies, and structures in place that are intentionally designed to embed and uplift and hear multiple perspectives in meaningful ways.


These organizations understand, value, and practice equitable and fair employee promotions, transparency in information, access to leadership, support for employees’ personal lives, inclusiveness and connection between colleagues and with leadership.


They act with integrity and take action to affect their employees positively.


Shifting from words to action requires intentional introspection and courageous honesty, because every organization and every human being has invisible, often unconscious tensions that are beneath what’s presented on the surface.


The iceberg is a good metaphor that reminds that our world-views, values, beliefs (sometimes known as blind-spots) impact our behaviors.


Our words and behaviors are the tip of the iceberg.

Image credit: https://islikeaniceberg.tumblr.com/page/2



Blind-spots/implicit biases often live in the unconscious mind and are laden with cultural beliefs and values, so we need support to see them.


Following up with intentional structures, processes, and policies allow for organizational blind-spots and habits to shift.


There are countless ways and areas to measure organizational blind-spots and ensure congruence in vision, values, and action.


Today I’ll offer a few for your consideration:


Website presence:

  • Who is the face of your organization? What is the first thing people see when they visit your website? Heterogenous or homogenous groups of people? Videos that include multiple perspectives?
  • Do you have a public statement or image about diversity, inclusion, and acceptance of all that was co-constructed with diverse members of your team?
  • What images, art, and quotes are visible? Are they from folks of diverse backgrounds/identities/etc.?


Organizational Culture:

  • Have you identified core values that are inclusive? Are they visible, known, and referenced regularly?
  • Have you named explicit intentions or goals to lift up multiple perspectives, listen and learn from folks who do not represent the dominant culture of your organization?  
  • Do you have intentional structures in place for collaborating/cross-pollinating/connecting across different roles?
  • Do you have intentional structures and processes to lift up specific perspectives and/or have experiences spot-lighted?
  • Have you appreciated members of your team for their unique contribution and perspective that adds value to the organization?



  • When you’re at a speaking engagement or hosting an event, what’s the first thing people see/hear when you introduce your team?
  • Do you regularly seek advice and/or thought-partnership from an outside perspective?  


This is Just the Tip of the Iceberg (sorry, pun intended–I couldn’t resist)


If you found yourself reflecting on the above questions and feeling like you have work to do, you’re not alone. I encourage you to take a deep breath with me and know that this process is ongoing and complex.


You’ve already taken the first step –  awareness.  


As a leader, you know that–try as you might, you can’t always be in control, but with humility and effort, you can have a tremendous influence on making workplace as inclusive, diverse, welcoming, unique, collaborative, and as productive as possible.


In order for deep, meaningful, and lasting change to occur, as a leader, you must become aware of what’s really at play, and then commit to addressing the root cause of WHY pitfalls may occur or continue to persist.


And that takes time, discipline, dedication, and support.


And remember, you’re on track.


Implicit biases are normal. We all have them. Once we’re aware and clear about our blind-spots, then we can become more conscious of how to interrupt and counteract those biases and develop new practices.


Respecting diversity and inclusion takes intentional and strategic moves.


AND there are ways you can raise awareness of your blind-spots. The SPARK Acronym helps us with that.


Slow down. Know thyself

  • Biases and blindspots are more likely to be acted upon under stress, time-crunch, pressure, cognitive overload.
  • What are your triggers?

Pause and set intention

  • How do I intend to truly honor and respect diversity and inclusion?
  • Am I listening to the individuals and the signs/information from my system?

Ask yourself good questions and be courageously curious

  • What assumptions am I making?
  • Am I suspending judgement and being open-minded?
  • Am I showing curiosity rather than certainty?

Respect Diversity & Connect

  • Human contact matters–whose perspective is not at the table?
  • Whose point of view am I not paying as close of attention to?
  • Am I exposing myself to as many perspectives as possible?
  • Am I creating and seeking out different narratives (with non-stereotypic imaging)?

Kindly expect tension and ambiguity

  • Am I trying new processes and structures that open up new possibilities?
  • Am I letting go of control and designing experiences that consistently lift up other points of view?


Creating awareness and making a shift sometimes requires help. I offer leaders coaching and trainings to help them springboard into more diverse and inclusive leaders.


S.P.A.R.K. Leadership development experiences involve:

  • Acknowledging and accepting unproductive mindsets and old patterns of behavior, raising awareness of blind-spots and biases that impact one’s leadership
  • Interrupting those patterns by setting intentions and taking small steps to shift habits
  • Embracing the unique strengths and assets that each leader has, which in turn helps them lead authentically with intentionality, conviction, confidence.
  • Increasing comfort navigating the transitions, tensions, and complexities of their organization.


Curious to learn more?


Download my new  S.P.A.R.K. Leadership Self-Assessment hereapply for our upcoming leadership program here,  and/or connect for virtual coffee with me here to learn more about my coaching/workshops/etc.

I’d love to hear from you! 

  • Was there anything that resonated?
  • Anything this blog sparked for you?
  • OR, do you have favorite quotes/articles about blind-spots and biases?


Comment below and let me know!


S.P.A.R.K. was founded in 2016 by Rachel Rosen, a seasoned facilitator, racial equity leadership coach, and LGBTQ advocate. S.P.A.R.K. offerings sit at the nexus of Rachel’s personal and professional passions, and she is on a mission to bring more empathy to the world, one conversation at a time. With a Masters from Stanford, and extensive training in leadershipcoaching, team and organizational development, S.P.A.R.K. experiences are grounded in theory and practice. S.P.A.R.K. offers experiences that support leaders and teams to unleash their potential to facilitate powerful experiences, collaborate, and build trust.

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